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Ginger Snaps
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Ginger Snaps (2000)

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Plot Summary:

"Ginger and Brigitte, two high school sisters who have yet to get their periods, are outcasts in their small Canadian suburb, and proud of it. The two obsess over death, making suicide pacts and staging fake demises for a school art class. Things start to change, however, when Ginger finally gets her period and is subsequently attacked by a vicious animal. Suddenly Ginger is interested in boys, and begins to drift from her devoted sister. But that's not the only change Ginger's going through."

Reviewer: Faye Coulman @horrorasylum
Reviewed: 04 February 2013 Rating: out of 5


Werewolves may have long been the stuff of farcical, special effects-laden fodder, but beneath a mainstream radar dogged by style-over-substance blockbusters lies an altogether edgier title that tears into this hackneyed trend with gory, wisecracking aplomb. Forged from a sharp-witted parallel between these lunar, supernatural horrors and the 'curse' of menstruation, director John Fawcett’s adept intermingling of raw menace and deliciously twisted humour is a rare, genre-defying feat.

Drably projected through Fawcett's stark, low-budget camerawork, the Canadian district of Bailey Downs is the dour, lifeless corner of suburbia that's plagued by what's presumed to be a rabid animal. After a string of slaughtered pets makes local headlines, teenage sisters Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins) themselves fall foul of an attack that leaves late developer Ginger maimed before making a freakishly rapid recovery. Coinciding with the arrival of her first period, Ginger logically assumes the hairy happenings that follow are merely hormonal, but it fast becomes apparent that she's doubly cursed as a pesky case of cramps escalates into sinister, supernatural territory.

Despite a number of glaringly amateur prosthetics, the devilish, demented energy with which Isabelle brings Ginger's terrifying metamorphosis to life ultimately outstrips these cosmetic shortcomings. Indeed, before all else, it's Ginger's turbulent downward spiral from likeable, acid-tongued outsider to bloodlust-driven beast that makes for frightening, fiercely compelling viewing.

With Ginger Snaps' nerve-shredding scares erupting out of realistically dreary, day-to-day scenarios, this rare mix of horror and razor-edged humour is as chilling as it is revolutionary in design.

Reviewer: John Dedeke @horrorasylum
Reviewed: 21 February 2001 Rating: out of 5

So seldom these days does a horror film come along as good as Ginger Snaps. In fact, given the recent string of terrible, derivative muck finding its way to theaters, it would be easy for the jaded horror fan to take one glance at Ginger Snaps and automatically assume that it is just more of the same boring product we've all become used to. The truth is, however, that Ginger Snaps is the most original, daring, and most importantly, satisfying horror film in years.

While the gap between great general horror films of late tends to span multiple years, the last time audiences enjoyed a decent WEREWOLF movie seems like centuries ago. Maybe that's why Ginger Snaps feels so fresh. Rather than take the story of two girls on the outside of high school society and turn it into another tame slasher movie (which is exactly what would have happened, no doubt, had this film been made in a Hollywood studio), screenwriter Karen Walton and director John Fawcett have taken a subgenre really lacking in quality films and turned it upside down with their awesome vision. All of the elements in the film -- the superb script, excellent cast, and powerful direction -- are top-notch. It really comes as no surprise that this Canadian-made film is an independent production, but what is surprising is that it was made for television! The film turned out to be so good that it was given a theatrical run in its native nation Canada, where it actually won an award for the best Canadian feature film at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Certain tried and true elements of horror are displayed throughout Ginger Snaps, but it's not necessarily these staples that make the film so good. True, there is a lot of nicely used blood, and true, there are numerous scare scenes and shock moments. But what really stands out in Ginger Snaps, what sets it apart as one of the best horror films of the past decade, is the wonderful story, and the way it is so expertly told. Not since Carrie has a story of high school alienation been so true, so compelling, and ultimately, so filled with grim reality. Walton's script is full of not just great characters and biting, delicious dialogue, but also a brilliant sense of mood. Director Fawcett takes his cues from the script and translates all of the fear and torment within it to the screen, and the way he manages to carry the overall tone throughout the film is really quite amazing. But Ginger Snaps is not doom and gloom the whole time; like growing up itself, the film fluctuates through moments of joy and pain. There's some beautifully executed dark humor in the film, but the humor never goes outside of its bounds. It is there to make the film more authentic and give it a life of its own, not to turn it into a horror spoof.

Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle are absolutely perfect as the sisters Brigitte and Ginger, both accurately conveying the horror of their dire situations and the sense of deep companionship shared only by sisters. Isabelle excels with the evolution of her character Ginger, going from a spiteful young outsider to a prowling, sexually charged young woman. Perkins, meanwhile, actually comes across as the lead in the film, viewing both her sister's physical and social changes from the outside, all the while never straying from her deep-rooted sibling devotion.

Certainly few films are perfect, and Ginger Snaps does leave a few logical questions unanswered and lose ends untied, but they hardly detract from the overall punch of the film. The conclusion may seem a bit ambiguous, but it could just as easily be viewed as a positive ambiguity as a negative one. And even with mild detractions, the film still easily surpasses just about every horror film that's seen the light of day in the past couple of years.

For the seasoned horror fan or those of just casual interest, Ginger Snaps is a wonderful treat. The film is both touching AND terrifying, features some excellent performances, and is all-around one of the best horror movies of the past decade. Very rarely does one come across a film that they can deem 'must-see,' but Ginger Snaps is exactly that kind of film.

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